PATNA: Eight days after announcing that it would not contest the bypolls for any of the three seats in Bihar, the ruling JD(U) on Sunday announced a candidate for the Jehanabad seat after ally BJP requested it to contest in the Assembly constituency where picking a candidate had been a vexed affair for NDA.
JD(U) state president Bashistha Narayan Singh said senior party colleague Abhiram Sharma, a former MLA from Jehanabad, would be the NDA candidate in the southern constituency. Sharma, 60, had won the Jehanabad seat on a JD(U) ticket in the 2010 Assembly polls, but JD(U) had allotted the seat to RJD in the 2015 polls in which the two regional parties, now bitter rivals, had contested as allies.
“We (JD-U) were requested by both BJP state chief Nityanand Rai and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Saturday to contest in any of the three seats going for the bypolls. So we put up a candidate,” said Singh. He had said on February 10 that JD(U) would not contest the bypolls because the three seats – Araria Lok Sabha constituency and the Assembly constituencies of Bhabhua and Jehanabad – were vacated due to deaths of sitting lawmakers who were from other parties.
The decision to field a JD(U) candidate in Jehanabad comes after days of wrangling between two smaller NDA partners – Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP – who staked claim on the seat. After Manjhi withdrew his claim, partly due to BJP’s indifference and RLSP’s pressures, the two factions of RLSP staked claim on the seat, finally prompting BJP to let JD(U) field its candidate.
JD(U)’s return to the fray is widely seen as a masterstroke by BJP and the Nitish Kumar-led party to keep the rising ambitions of Manjhi and Kushwaha in check. Both Manjhi, a dalit leader and former chief minister, and Kushwaha, currently a Union minister, are reportedly unhappy about the development. While Manjhi did not react, Kushwaha said he has no objections as “it is an NDA decision”.
“Nitish Kumar is known as the master of flip-flops. This decision shows he can do the exact opposite of what he says,” said RJD leader, Tejaswi Yadav, the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly. Senior RJD leader Manoj Jha said BJP and JD(U) had earlier agreed on this arrangement in order to keep the “match fixing” a secret.
Courtesy: Express News Service